Opinion PC Reviews

Brume Review – A Deceptively Good Soulslike

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Brume is a small soulslike experience that you could easily finish in one or two days if you play it on your lunch break. The game is part of Sokpop Collective, an amazing group of games that continues to grow every two weeks, and is well worth a look if you enjoy the sound of Brume. This game in particular caught my eye because of the way it claimed to be a soulslike experience that can be finished in just one or two hours. With all of my previous soulslike gaming sessions seeing me sink about thirty hours into a game before getting too stuck to continue, I was intrigued to see if I could finish this one. Obviously I did, which is why this review exists, and now I’m going to try to convey why you should play it.

Extremely Light Souls

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As you’d expect from a soulslike, Brume keeps its mechanics close its chest. You’re given a general direction to go in, through small cutscenes, but otherwise you’re left to figure everything out for yourself. You begin with nothing, but quickly earn an amulet and stick to defend yourself with. The stick is the first of a few weapons in Brume, all of which do pretty much the same thing. Right click will attack, and left click will block, which can be enhanced with a shield if you pick it up.

Small enemies are pretty much cannon fodder to take up your time between larger enemies, the humanoid ones which provide a real challenge. These are the minibosses that you need to watch and learn from before going in for any sort of attack in Brume, creating a satisfying loop that gives you that elating feeling of having overcome a great struggle once you’ve conquered it. Landing successful hits on any enemy will increase your skill with the currently equipped weapon, which in turn increases the amount of damage you can deal in the normal world.

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However, later in the game some enemies, and bosses, straddle both the normal world, and the shadow world. Shadow enemies take a set amount of damage with each hit, at least they did from me, making them far more gruelling experiences when you do come up against them. Thankfully these enemies and bosses are spaced out enough to make them feel like actual challenges, rather than padding to artificially increase Brume’s difficulty.

Deliberately Obtuse

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As I’ve already pointed out, you get an amulet early on in Brume. This item will heal you by absorbing the blood that enemies drop when you land a hit. This is how you heal yourself in Brume, making fighting shadow enemies even harder because they don’t bleed. In classic soulslike fashion, there’s a cost to all of this healing. Should you absorb too much blood, and you’re never told how much is too much, then you become corrupted. I don’t know what this means, but I think I got the bad ending because I finished the game whilst corrupted.

In this way, and a few others, Brume obscures your understanding of the game like the fog that permeates the world in which it’s set. You never really feel like you know exactly what’s going on, even though I’m sure you could get to grips with it if you poured hundreds of hours into the game and analysed the files. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, I really enjoy the way that Brume makes me question myself, and how every enemy is a threatening encounter that might kill me and send me back to the last rest point.

Oddly Beautiful

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Brume might not look like a pretty game, but that’s part of its beauty. The visuals provide just enough context for you to understand who is human, who is a bug, and who is a shadow demon monstrosity, but they don’t give any detail about who these characters are. The context of each enemy, which amounts to the lore from games like Dark Souls, is all in the player’s imagination. One area is filled with dead soldiers who will rise to fight you, and they’re all extremely tough. The area’s boss is a big shadow character who uses the swords of those fallen soldiers to fight you, and it’s a really hard battle to win. To me, these soldiers are all people like the protagonist who have come to this land to try and understand it, but they’ve all succumbed to the demon here that preys on their curiosity, which is something all humans are flawed by.

Verdict

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With so many games requiring hundreds of hours of your time for you to truly experience them, Brume is a nice break that will only gently beat you into submission, rather than eviscerate you. I really took my time and finished the game in two hours, but you could definitely finish it in less. There are also a number of achievements to earn that will take up a few more playthroughs, if you’re looking for a soulslike with multiple endings and a couple of different ways to play.

There’s a lot of challenge to be found in Brume, and while it isn’t the prettiest game with the deepest lore, or music that sounds like hordes of people screaming for their lives, it is a great way to spend an hour if you don’t want to see the same open world you’ve been exploring for the past month or two.

Disclaimer: A review code for Brume was provided by Sokpop.

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